High school history teachers might not call it so selfless, but America was founded on the concept that individuals had the right to acquire private property. Not just a little wealth. Massive wealth. On the other side of the sea notice a kind of money that an emperor makes and wants a cut. Yes Yes Yes, there was some stuff in the Declaration of Independence that was made equal for all men and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but it was all based on cake. Keck himself was a group of small business owners who did not want the King of England to cut his hard earned profits in the form of taxes.
No other country in history has ever forged such content concepts with a leap. Capitalism and the right to earn an income (big or small) without the intervention of government or the church are woven directly into the fabric of our founding documents and social DNA.
Now we pay tax to the government. But the IRS was not formed until 1862. We did not start paying property taxes until 1913, when Congress passed the 16th Amendment – the right to levy federal income tax. Property taxes are extremely strange. Why do you need to pay an annual fee to own something you bought? I think we need police and roads and fire departments and armies … but none of these taxes are in the initial structure of the United States.
This unique premise is precisely the reason America is the wealthiest country in the world today. This is why people around the world are desperate to land on our shores, where they can take their shot in the American dream. A dream that has produced some of the greatest personal fortunes in modern history.
As I just wrote, eight of the ten richest people in the world are Americans. Two of those eight – Google’s Sergey Brin and Tesla / SpaceX’s Elon Musk – are US immigrants. They are two countless examples of immigrants who landed on the shores of America to take their shots.
So, who is the richest American ever? And when you take into account inflation, who is the richest American of all time?
How do today’s tech tycoons match the net-version with their industrial-era predecessors? For example, how does Mark Zuckerberg’s current $ 100 billion net worth compare to Rockefeller’s inflation-adjusted net worth of Carnegie and Vanderbilt?
Richest american of all time
# 12: Warren Buffett – $ 89 billion (1930 – present, Berkshire Hathaway)
Oracle of Omaha made its billions as president of Berkshire Hathaway, a large company, which is interested in a wide variety of industries. Berkshire owns Fruit of the Loom, GEICO among thousands of other companies and investments. Berkshire is one of Apple’s largest owners. As of this writing, Warren Buffett has a net worth of $ 88 billion, but Mr. Buffett has a cavate with funds. Like Bill Gates before even further down this list, Warren intends to donate the majority of his fortune to charity and he has actually already given nearly $ 40 billion. If they had not done so, they would have had assets of about $ 130 billion today. It is enough to jump to a few places on this list.
# 11: Friedrich Weyerhauser – $ 80 billion (1834 – 1914, wood, land)
After the Civil War, Friedrich Weyerheuser started a lumber company and eventually acquired more than two million acres of land, making him one of the largest private landowners in America. His timber venture was highly successful, with Weyerhaeuser earning a personal net worth of more than $ 80 billion in today’s dollars.
# 10. Stewart – $ 90 billion (1803 – 1876, dry goods)
Alexander Torn Stewart, aka AT Stewart, an Irish born, founded the very first department store in New York City that would become the world’s largest retail store in its time. Stewart’s net worth was estimated at over $ 1 million in 1869, and when he died in 1876, his fortune was $ 90 billion in 2012 dollars!
# 9: Stephen Girard – $ 105 billion (1750 – 1831, banker)
Originally from France, Stephen Girard made his fortune in shipping and eventually banking. The oldest person on our list of richest Americans, Girard was born in 1750 and died in 1831. At the time of this death, Stephen Girard was the richest person in the US with a net worth of $ 105 billion! He died without an heir and donated a large part of his fortune.
# 8: Mark Zuckerberg – $ 120 billion (1984 – present)
Mark famously founded thefacebook.com in 2004 from his Harvard dorm room. Sixteen years later, this company has become so big that many government agencies are calling for a breakup. People see Mark as a modern day Rockefeller. A man who built an empire, then used his empire to compete and ruin the world. However you feel about Mark or the product that made him famous, Facebook, there is no denying his success. As of this writing he is worth $ 100 billion, but his net worth is $ 120 billion as recently as September 2020.
# 7: John Jacob Astor – $ 121 billion (1763 – 1848, New York City real estate)
John Jacob Astor dominated the fur trade in America and made his first fortune. Esther then used his vast financial resources to acquire real estate in New York City, including eventually the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Astor was the first multi-millionaire in America and at the time of his death in 1848 had net assets equal to $ 121 billion in today’s dollars.
# 6: Bill Gates – $ 156 billion (1955 – present, Microsoft)
For a brief moment in 1999, Bill Gates had a net worth of $ 100 billion at the absolute peak of the dotcom bubble. When adjusting for inflation, this is similar to $ 156 billion in today’s dollars. As of this writing, his non-inflation-adjusted net worth is $ 134 billion. That is enough to make him the sixth richest American, but a major warning. Like his good friend Warren Buffett, Gates has pledged to donate most of his money to charity during his lifetime and has actually donated $ 50 billion. If the bill had been more of a selfish miser, it would have been $ 206 billion today.
# 5: Cornelius Vanderbilt – $ 185 billion (1794 – 1877, railroad and shipping)
Cornelius Vanderbilt made a small fortune running a steamboat, but did not come across his vast wealth until he was invested in the railroad at the age of 70. He used his money to buy real estate in Vanderbilt University and his descendants in New York. Faridabad One of those descendants is CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. Cooper is Vanderbilt’s great-great-great-grandson. Cooper has claimed that he has not received any money associated with any trust belonging to his famous patron. At the time of his death in 1877, Cornelius Vanderbilt earned assets of $ 185 billion in today’s dollars.
# 4: Jeff Bezos – $ 200 billion (1964 – present, founder of Amazon)
Jeff Bezos is the founder, president, CEO and president of Amazon.com. He alone changed the way the world shops. He wrote a business plan for Amazon while driving around the country with his wife after leaving a high-paying investment banking job to take his shot on the World Wide Web. Jeff first surpassed Bill Gates in July 2017 to become the world’s richest man. He was the richest person in the world after being ousted by Elon Musk from October 2017 to January 2021. However, it should be noted that at the point in which he moved forward, Jeff’s total assets of $ 195 billion were nearly $ 60 billion missing when he divorced ex-wife McKenzie Scott. If Jeff Bezos never divorced, he would become $ 256 billion on this list.
# 3: Elon Musk – $ 210 billion (1971 – present, Tesla and SpaceX)
Elon was born in 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. He became a US citizen in 2002. Elon earned his first significant fortune as one of the co-founders of PayPal. He drowned that fate in two companies: Telsa and SpaceX, almost in the process of going bankrupt on several occasions. As of this writing he owns 22% of publicly traded Tesla and 48% of SpaceX. The story of Tesla between 2018 and 2021 is nothing short of remarkable. The stock was battered and cloaked. At one time it was the world’s smallest stock. Then in 2020 it flew like a SpaceX rocket. Elon started 2020 with net assets of $ 28 billion. He ended 2020 at $ 170 billion. In one week 2021, his total assets increased from $ 40 billion to $ 210 billion. During that week Elon became the richest person on the planet, overtaking Jeff Bezos.
# 2: Andrew Carnegie – $ 310 billion (1835 – 1919, US Steel)
At the peak of the steel boom, Andrew Carnegie invested heavily in steel companies, which paid well. Carnegie eventually became the head of US Steel, which catapulted him to the upper echelons of American wealth. In 1901 Andrew sold his company to banker JP Morgan for $ 480 million, which was paid in an interest-bearing bond held in a bank specifically designed to protect the bond. At the time of his death in 1919, Andrew Carnegie was worth $ 310 billion in today’s dollars, making him the second richest American ever. After selling his company, he devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy. He abandoned his entire fortune, funding the major hospital systems and schools that still operate today. According to legend, he did not initially intend to pay a penny, but changed his mind after feeling guilty for contributing to the harsh conditions for the steel works which made him very prosperous.
# 1: John D. Rockefeller – $ 340 billion (1839 – 1937, Standard Oil)
John D. Rockefeller was not only the richest America that ever lived, but one of the richest humans in the history of the world, whose total assets in today’s dollars amount to $ 340 billion, when he died in 1937. John D. Founder of Rockefeller Standard Oil and eventually controlled over 90% of all oil in the United States. Standard Oil was disbanded by the US government for being a monopoly and it eventually broke down into what eventually became Amoco, Chevron Conoco and ExxonMobil. Fun lesson for Mark Zuckerberg and the people of Google, Rockefeller’s fate broke his monopoly. The separation of their empire allowed companies to compete and operate at levels that they could not have before. Very high value was obtained. And as the owner of the small bits of each company, John D. saw his fortunes. He was the first American to be valued at more than $ 1 billion and donated over $ 500 million to the charity upon his death.